What is your Core?
Whether you have been training at AMP for a while, just started or attend our bootcamps, you have no doubt heard your trainer talk about your core. Have you ever wondered what it is exactly and why we need a strong core? Unless there has been time to go into detail you may still be wondering this. So lets begin.
What is considered to be your core?
When most people are called upon to name the core muscles most think of the abs or abdominals and while that is true, your core consists of many muscles beyond your that. Other main core muscles include the obliques, transverse abdominals, diaphragm, multifidus, the pelvic floor and many more muscles. An easy way to remember which muscles are necessary for core strength, is to imagine the human body cut off at the elbows and knees. Yes, all of these muscles are either the core directly or muscles that assist the core. Now, you can see why the core is so important. It is such a large portion of our bodies and an integral one as well.
How does the core work?
These muscles work together through isometric exercises as well as a trunk stabilizer through compound movements. The core muscles are quite unique as respects other muscle groups. While most muscles groups work to build force and resist force in one plain of movement, the core has to produce strength for the isometric exercises and in contrast also has to be able to control strength through the compound movements, in three plains of movement! In isometric exercises such as a plank the core group of muscles is producing force and stabilizing your body. However, while performing a compound movement, such as a squat, the core muscles are not only stabilizing but they also working to transfer force through the body in that compound movement. If our core is not functioning properly in a plank you would be unable to keep a flat back and your belly would sag toward the floor thus resulting in eventual injury and pain. If we look at the squat, when the core is functioning properly and to its full potential the squat is a smooth motion. Once there is dysfunction, your upper body will cave and you are left bent over and your back rounded, you then have to compensate to get back to your starting position and that too can be hazardous.
How can the core become stronger?
You need to crawl before you walk. Start with the basics. To guarantee core stability and strength we need to begin with static activities. These can range from a simple plank, to a side plank and once those are mastered you can begin to move on to exercises such as the dead-bug and bird-dog. Protecting and strengthening the musculature around the spine is essential for preventing injury and excelling in physical activity. Once stability has been gained, you can then move on to strengthening your core through more dynamic movements. Be sure that whatever the movement, a squat, a crawl, a deadlift or a press, that your core be braced and keep tension through the movement. Constant practice and effort will help you gain stability and strength.
Next time you are attempting an exercise or movement, remember to brace your core and use it everyday. Not only will it make you stronger for your workouts but it will make you stronger for life.